William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE BETRAYAL – AT 10:43 A.M. ET:  My friend James Taranto, of The Wall Street Journal, has a terrific interview with Cardinal Dolan of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops.

Dolan recounts, using very diplomatic language, his dealings with President Obama on the issue of coercing religious institutions to provide health-care coverage that may violate their teachings.  Dolan, who is a good guy, doesn't say it directly, but Taranto does:  Obama comes off as imperious and deceitful:

"I said, 'I've heard you say, first of all, that you have immense regard for the work of the Catholic Church in the United States in health care, education and charity. . . . I have heard you say that you are not going to let the administration do anything to impede that work and . . . that you take the protection of the rights of conscience with the utmost seriousness. . . . Does that accurately sum up our conversation?' [Mr. Obama] said, 'You bet it does.'"

The archbishop asked for permission to relay the message to the other bishops. "You don't have my permission, you've got my request," the president replied.

"So you can imagine the chagrin," Archbishop Dolan continues, "when he called me at the end of January to say that the mandates remain in place and that there would be no substantive change, and that the only thing that he could offer me was that we would have until August. . . . I said, 'Mr. President, I appreciate the call. Are you saying now that we have until August to introduce to you continual concerns that might trigger a substantive mitigation in these mandates?' He said, 'No, the mandates remain. We're more or less giving you this time to find out how you're going to be able to comply.' I said, 'Well, sir, we don't need the [extra time]. I can tell you now we're unable to comply.'"

COMMENT:  That's the heart of it, but the entire piece is intriguing, and upsetting.  It raises the most disturbing questions about the president's integrity.

Last week we had the now-famous "open mike" incident, in which Obama is pretty much admitting to Russian President Medvedev that he's saying one thing to the American people during the election campaign, but will pursue more "flexible" policies once re-elected.

There have been serious concerns raised about Obama's honesty since he started running for president...especially when his campaign rhetoric didn't match his background.  What are we to think now?

Are you ready to risk a second term with this man?

Editor's apology:  An earlier version of this post identified Archbishop Dolan as Archbishop Egan, who, of course, was his predecessor in New York.  We apologize for the error.

March 31, 2012